Special education teacher fights for funding, more opportunities for South Side students

Remarkable Women
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CHICAGO – From community gardens and donation boxes, to starting her own non-profit, Lizzy Carroll does it all.

By day, she’s a teacher at Clara Barton Elementary School.

“I teach special education, so it’s like a self-contained classroom. My students have intellectual disabilities; autism, down syndrome, like low incident disabilities, so I teach all subjects with them,” she said.

But Carroll knew she wanted to do more.

“Saw the disparities between the schools in affluent communities and schools that served predominantly Black students and students of color,” Carroll said. “That really drove me to want to come to a school on the South Side, be an advocate, try to get funding, get resources, and to help my students get as many educational opportunities as possible.”

A book drive at a roller skating rink is just one of the events her non-profit “Lead with Love” holds for the Auburn Gresham and Englewood communities.

“We’ve experienced grief, we’ve experienced death, gun violence, obviously the pandemic, we’ve been through a lot, so this space, the non-profit gives us a sense of healing, a sense of unity, it’s really, really meaningful and really powerful and I’m just glad to have these people on my team to benefit the community as a whole.”

Judy Shramm has known Lizzy since she was a young girl.

“That is the perfect job for you, like you will definitely do well in that and I know the person you are, you will make a difference in a lot of kids lives.”

That’s part of the reason why Judy nominated Lizzy as Nexstar’s Remarkable Woman.

Latisha Burnett’s son was one of Lizzy’s student. But when her son, Darnell, passed away, Latisha said Lizzy went above and beyond.

“So the relationship that they built together, it was amazing, it was amazing, so when my son passed, she was one of the first ones I called and I actually had her speak at his funeral,” Burnett said.

Lizzy wanted to keep Darnell’s memory alive and it’s continued her drive to keep helping others.

“After the garden dedication for Darnell, I felt like I wanted to get this done sooner, I wrote it in my journal, it just felt so good to just check it off, but yeah I’m 26 years old and I really hope that this is only the beginning of a lot community work to come,” Burnett said.

The winner of our Remarkable Women Award will be announced next month.

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